I don’t know about you, but I’ve had one of those weeks. It’s Friday and I’m looking back and wondering A) where the time went, and B) why I’m so darn shattered.
I need a hug. And a gin. And a Holiday episode of Gilmore Girls. In that order.
They rank right up there with the list of universal natural remedies to a rubbish day. Sleeping on it, showering, and eating comfort food… and hugs.
Well, hugs first. For the following reasons…
You know when you come back from a long day at work. Deadlines are coming up and your hours are stretching out into times that they have no business stretching into. When you splash your feet in an indeterminately muddily deep puddle and start to question what else life will throw at you today. Because it’s just quite simply been that sort of day when an asteroid might as well hit.
It’s when you’re in those sorts of mood that you come home from work and see that the dishes still haven’t been done from two days ago and your son’s stupid sports equipment is draped over the kitchen floor like it was meant to be there. It wasn’t. And you feel like you’re about to cry. Kids mean well lots of the time but when they’re careless it can really cause you to wonder why you bother with it all.
Hugs are great stress relievers in these situations. Wholesome.
As a form of human contact, it slows your heartbeat down, calms you, and the intimacy and physical warmth that it provides can also sooth your mental health and provide a temporary release of some angst that you might be holding on to. It also gets you moving and if you’ve been sat down stressing about your essay for three hours, the movement and blow flow will stabilise your heart rate and give you a moment of reprieve. You can close your eyes and really lean into the emotional support that this person is offering.
Your husband walks in the door five minutes too late to prevent you seeing the nonsense, but not too late to prevent the meltdown which is threatened. It was raining outside. You remember that fact. You remember that when he drops his briefcase to the floor and enclosed you within a big bear hug inside the shell of his suit. It’s all awkward angles and limbs and strange smell from his lunch still inside his jacket pocket. But it’s perfect. Utterly, effortlessly, commensurately perfect. It’s because you love them. It’s because you feel safe there.
You communicate all of this through the hugs.
You don’t need words, you can just squeeze harder and have a good old fashioned fifteen second hug that you both clearly needed.
But mostly, it’s because it’s exactly what you needed then. Sometimes you don’t even realise what you’re missing until you are presented face to face with the material reality of it’s absence. We must always remember that what we acclimatise to is not a marker of what we can bear long term, nor a reflection of what we deserve to experience. We are better than that; we are worth more. Simple as.
To feel the arms of the person you love around you – is there a greater feeling?
It doesn’t even need to be romantic.
Platonic and filial works just as well, if not better, because that is a sensation rooted deep into the boughs of who you are. Childhood and nostalgic comfort. Security. Safety. The sensation of feeling loved. All these hallmarks of emotionally complex realities that you took for granted when you were younger. We all did. We all always assumed that there’d be someone there to love us unconditionally. Let me be clear, there always is someone who is there to love you unconditionally. Your friends, your family, your relatives. Lovers. You, yourself, believe it or not – you do count! But all that is great in childhood memories is there too in the humble hug.
You can take your third base, fourth base anxieties and insecurities, because I personally believe that personal intimacy will always peak and tap out at the level of hugging. It’s carnal after that; pleasure and physical touch – and trust and that’s excellent, truly.
What a hug offers and communicates is a loving personality.
Love. Uniqueness. Wholesomeness. A hug can be different every time. Each person. Offering something important, distinct and valuable to each person. That’s why we hug to console each other in groups. At funerals. Weddings. In park runs, and at the end of a Gilmore Girls marathon.
We need to share in the lives of other people. Make contact, but also receive feedback ourselves. Feel others and find ourselves felt, received. I’m starting to sound like a dodgy therapist here, but stay with me.
What I mean is that in hugging someone it’s not a solitary act. It’s one that stresses the unity between two people, that connection.